Authors are as much works of fiction as their characters are. I suspect the online world suits most of us down to a T. After all we’re all used to spending our time with a load of fictional characters and, let’s face it, none of you are real, not really real. I have attributed characteristics and personalities to the many people I correspond with day to day but the fact is I know that it's all a fabrication. I even wrote ‘talk to’ and changed it because we don’t talk. I don't know you and you don't know me. There is no time for all of that and so we fill in the blanks – chasms of ignorance more like – with what we need to make our relationships seem more real. This is not a failing on any of our parts; this is simply the way things are in the world in which we live.
I’ve deliberately chosen to stay fairly anonymous when it comes to my online persona. It wouldn’t benefit me to be as secretive as some but, on the whole, I keep details of my private life to a minimum. And this post is not going to be so different but I thought it might be beneficial for people to be aware of some of the stuff that goes on in my head from day to day just in case any one of you out there is under the delusion that all of this is easy. That can be discouraging and really what I want to do is encourage people as much as I can, that no matter what you have to contend with – and we all have something to contend with – you can still make a go of things.
I don’t normally keep a diary – never have - but I started making these notes with the intention of picking the best bits for a blog and this is what I ended up with. I was going to scrap it all and just get on with a normal post but, what the heck. Make of it what you will.
Today I’m very tired. Of course by the time you read this several weeks will have passed since I was tired. Indeed two or three days, perhaps even a week will pass between this and the last sentence in this article. So, all of you who feel the need to rally round and say, "Buck up, Jim," really don't need to because I'll have either bucked up myself or just got on with it either way, more than likely a bit of both.
I don't often air my woes here. I have woes aplenty let me tell you, says he and then proceeds not to say any more because, let's face it, we all have woes. Today the woe that is attracting the most attention is tiredness. Tiredness shouldn't be an illness. It should be a consequence of all those late nights bevvying and listening to AC/DC. Yeah, right. I wish. What bothers me about the kind of tiredness I suffer from is that I don't get to enjoy myself to feel as tired as I do. I don't think I've ever enjoyed myself enough to feel as tired as I do. Suffice to say I'm tired and a good night's kip isn't going to fix it.
I’ll probably never post this. So, why am I bothering with this? Because it feels good to write. I’m tired but for some reason that tiredness hasn’t spread to my fingers. In fact they're clattering away good guns.
The thing I think I'm trying to say here is the fact that writing is what I turn to quite naturally when there is a problem. I know that the writing this won’t solve anything but it's something to do when there's nothing to do. And we humans don't like doing nothing, and so we pace, make endless cups of coffee, crack our knuckles, fiddle with our hair, etc. etc.
It's now 2:20 pm on the 21st of November. Hard to imagine that 10 days have passed since I wrote that bit above. I'm still tired. I never expected not to be. Fatigued is the right word but it just feels like a posh word for 'tired'. And, as imagined, I got on with it over the last few days, about 500 words on the novel – but more importantly a new direction – two poems and a blog about collecting things. Not much for ten days. And I've read half a collection of short stories – in spurts. Of course I've kept up with my e-mails and RSS feeds and that's a lot. Their relentlessness drags me down, every day more things to read and to comment on, to show an interest in.
Don't get me wrong, I like the fact that I’m part of a little group here. I even like to think I'm a focal point but my sensible side realises that if I dropped dead tomorrow, or just went AWOL again like I did ten years ago, people would just get on without me. I was just talking to Art about that, about the fact that the last time I dropped out of sight not one person enquired about me, not one solitary bugger. It certainly puts things into perspective. But this is less to do with people not caring than it is to do with the onslaught of information I have to contend with every ruddy day. Every day new things, new people, and I don't have time for them.
When I add an RSS feed these days I go through my list and find one I can delete. I feel quite mercenary but if I'm not getting enough from a particular site – and the 'enough' can be different from site to site – then they get the chop. Of course I then feel guilty.
Everyone is selling something. Mostly they don’t want my money though some of them want that too. But they all want my time: read my blog, reassure me. And I’m no different: read my blog, buy my book. I hate selling.
Some online journal has asked me to write a weekly column. There's no way I could commit to that but I've not replied yet. I'd like to say I could do one a month but even the thought of that tires me. I'm finding the Web very needy at the moment. There is so much to read and I feel that everyone is looking for something from me. It's very draining. I go through my feeds and hardly read anything. There are too many words. I keep coming back to that sentence. It keeps popping into my head as has been doing for weeks, months possibly: there are too many words.
I'm not reading much at the moment. I've been buying books and piling them up beside the chair in my office but I'm struggling simply to get through a book of short stories at the moment. I've never been able to devour books like I know some can. There's one site I subscribe to when the girl posts a blog every time she finishes a book and the entries just keep coming and coming. There's a lot about the Internet that inspires me but it also exhausts me. Every day there are more and more things to attend to. I should be glad for the attention. That is the name of the game isn't it? I'm here to attract readers.
I want to write but I have a headache. I slept badly again but I managed another 300 words in the early hours. All dialogue so it feels like more. I'm not writing enough.
John Baker's posted another section of Out Stealing Timber. I’ve marked it as unread because I feel guilty skipping over it. I can't remember much about what he's written so far and feel bad about it. I like reading his stuff. I just wish it stuck. It's not his fault. And Ani has something new up but there are too many words in it. I'll read it later.
People are starting to comment on my post on Jena's site, the one about inspiration. Ken thinks he can see more of the real me in it. I don't think the real me wrote it. This certainly feels more like the real me today, what passes for the real me these days. I listened to the 2003 version of Tubular Bells this morning and realised that the comment I made about John Cleese in my blog on collecting was wrong. I'll need to fix that but there's no rush.
I'm not sure what to do with this 'diary' blog. I know other people post things like this all the time. I'm just not sure why I should. It's not going in the kind of direction I hoped it might. I'm just rambling. What good would it do? I need to start work on a real post; I'm running out; I've been lazy. My stockpile was to give me time to work on my book but I wasn't expecting this bad turn to last so long. That wasn't a part of the plan.
I have no idea where this post is going. Part of me wants to bin it. It feels self-indulgent and it probably is. I’ve always tried to ensure that my posts were there to educate people before anything else and I keep asking myself what would people learn from this? That I’m human? We’re all human and we all have bad days. I don’t think it’s wrong to keep that side of me away from the public gaze. That said, I’ve had to encourage two bloggers over the last couple of days both of whom are suffering from depression and the only way I could think to do so was to talk about my own experiences and the fact that you can work around these things. For a long time I’ve kept the mindset that you may not be able to work on what you want (e.g. my book at the moment) so you work on what you can (i.e. this blog).
I wrote to that site today and told them I wasn’t up to do a weekly blog and they were very nice about it and the door’s still open. I should send them some poems and I will when I can be bothered. Only one short story to go in that book and then maybe I’ll think about writing a review. That shouldn’t strain me too much. I think I might take a few days off over Christmas. Other people take breaks so why not me?
My neck hurts. I'll need to stop this. God, pain can be such a pain.
I think that’s enough of me moaning. You get the idea.
So, how much truth is in these diary entries? Some. They’ve been edited of course, cleaned up, bits added in and shuffled around. Like everything I post they’re lies wrapped around truths. I could have posted them unedited but they wouldn’t have been more truthful, simply harder to make sense of.
I did want to get across the fact that my posts don’t just trip off my tongue. They all take weeks to write, a line or two here, a paragraph there. Some are easier than others. This one wasn’t very easy at all. And while I've been working on it I've used up half of my stockpile of posts which I was saving for a bad spell. Just like this one.